BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Since October, Josh Gordon has made shocking revelations about his past in 3 separate interviews with UNITERRUPTED, GQ Magazine and now MMQB.com-Sports Illustrated.
But none of the revelations are making the Browns shy away from hyping the return of the 2013 Pro Bowl receiver that led the league in receiving yardage and hasn’t played in a regular season game since Dec. 21, 2014.
The latest revelations came Tuesday from a sit-down with the MMQB.com and Sport Illustrated in which Gordon told the publication that he was shot while in high school, thought of himself as a gangster and in college cleared $10,000 a month selling marijuana.
“I have heard all about it,” head coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday. “Obviously, there is nothing good that comes from those things, but again, that is in Josh’s past. Hopefully, that is all we hear from that. I’m sure there will be lessons learned from him from all of that.
“I think there is a cleansing that people go through in these situations…That is a tough article, but I think that is behind him and we are going to move on.”
Gordon also admitted that he lied to MMQB.com and SI about his previous usage of substances during their interview, which took place 3 weeks prior to the GQ sit-down where he revealed to GQ that he used drugs or drank alcohol before every game.
It was also revealed in the MMQB.com-SI article the controlling nature of Gordon’s business manager Michael Johnson, who has been leveraging Gordon’s comeback story as a way to generate revenue while also attempting to control the message and narrative of the stories told.
Jackson was asked Wednesday if these revelations make him and the organization nervous about rolling out the red carpet for Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated Nov. 1 by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“He wasn’t here last month,” Jackson said. “Everything makes me nervous. It is not just Josh, right? I’m nervous about everything right now. We have stuff happening across the country; we have stuff happening here; there is all kinds of stuff going on. I am nervous about everything to be honest with you, but again, we have to deal with things as they happen and that is what we are going to do.”
Prior to welcoming Gordon back, Jackson did his homework – and not just regarding his substance abuse problems either. Jackson is well aware of Gordon’s poor attitude when he returned in 2014 from a 10-game ban that saw him run poor routes and not give 100-percent effort that contributed to the demise of a promising season that ended with the Browns losing their final 5 games to fall out of the playoff race.
While Gordon, who will be activated from the Commissioner’s exempt list this week by the team, might be welcomed back with open arms, he is also on notice.
“Oh I have talked to him about all of that. Yes sir,” Jackson said.
Gordon has missed Cleveland’s past 44 games and 54 of 59 because of suspensions but in practice has shown very few signs of rust which has the organization buzzing about his potential.
“Josh Gordon is 6-4, 227 pounds. I haven’t played with anyone like him,” rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said this week.
Receiver Corey Coleman, also a Baylor alum, called Gordon “a freak” Wednesday and remembers fondly the first time he saw Gordon play when former Baylor head coach Art Briles put a Browns game on in 2014.
“I don’t know how we got the game in Texas because people don’t watch the Browns a lot in Texas – just being honest – but we were in the cafeteria and we were watching this man play and I was like ‘holy s—!’ I’m like, ‘man this dude is good,'” Coleman said. “With me being so young, I’m going ‘man, that’s what I’m striving for.'”
The return of Gordon also gives the Browns renewed hope that they’ll avoid 0-16 for a second straight season.
“He can do great things,” Coleman said. “Another playmaker to help us get a win. I’m just excited for him to get back and be on the other side of me. I hope bringing the team a win. A spark with me and him both being out there, creating plays, catching the ball and getting open.”
Although Gordon is slated to play the next 5 games, there’s no guarantee he’ll play here in 2018 despite remaining under contract for another year because he won’t get credit for an accrued season under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement pushing his restricted free agency back to 2019.
“I think the biggest thing is he still has to earn the right to be here,” Jackson said. “He earned the right to get back here. He has to earn the right to be here each and every day. He has been outstanding thus far here.
“Obviously, I think he understands that the antennas are up everywhere, and they should be. He has to do the work to make sure that those things are in his past.”